Study: Medicaid patients don't get cancer screening

Medicaid patients may not be getting the screening they need for cancers such as colorectal, breast, and cervical cancer--and a new study suggests that it may be due in large part to their primary care physicians failing to recommend the screenings.

The study, done in North Carolina, found that colorectal, breast and cervical cancer screening were documented as recommended by the primary-care provider for only 52.7 percent, 60.4 percent and 51.5 percent of eligible patients, respectively. This, in spite of the fact that all patients whose records were studied were eligible for this screening.

When rates of actual screenings were studied, 28.2 percent of patients had had screening for colorectal cancer, 31.7 percent got mammography within two years, and 31.6 percent had a Papanicolaou [cervical cancer] test within three years. This is substantially lower than the rates of screening in the general population.

These three types of cancer were specifically studied because they are all potentially curable if discovered and treated early. The government is attempting to eliminate these disparities in screening as part of the Healthy People 2010 Plan.

To learn more about these disparities:
- Read this Washington Post piece